I LOVE Caesar salad. When Lynne and I were starting the Arbor Cafe back in the early 1990’s we were kind of at the leading edge of the Caesar revival locally, and our first “original” cafe recipe was our own take on Caesar dressing. But that was then and now is now and the NYTimes food section this week had a re-imagined Caesar that added kale and used a poached egg in the dressing.
I was intrigued with this recipe as the raw egg in the dressing of an original Caesar salad was a sticking point with the Health Department and some customers…though “back in the day” if you ordered a Caesar salad, the waiter came to your table with a cart on which were the salad greens, an egg, a cruet of olive oil, garlic and a lemon which he then whisked into a dressing, carefully placing the whole anchovy strips atop the salad. I have this on good authority as R, in his early days, was waiter at the Coeur d’Alene Country Club at Hayden Lake, Idaho, and learned this process.
First though, the greens. Romaine is the traditional choice, but this recipe adds kale for currency…and it’s good. I read about their suggested preparation of the greens taking great care and adjusted accordingly. I used romaine hearts and curly kale.
I washed and dried the greens in the morning, placing them on a sheet pan with a bag of ice on it, then greens and then covered with a dish towel, and put them in the fridge. The goal here is DRY and COLD. By dinner time they were perfect.
The dressing. We learned at the Arbor Cafe NOT to put the lovely anchovy strips atop the salad as people picked them off and left them on the plate so we sneakily blended them into the dressing so the salad would have the salty delicious anchovy taste but would not confront the customers with the (apparently) horrifying hairy fishes. In the NYTimes version all the ingredients are put in a blender or blended with a hand blender (my choice) and the poached egg (poached in the microwave) was added last. Short aside…my Moulinix turbo is an indispensable tool in this kitchen…
2 cloves garlic
i tsp. Dijon mustard
2 TBLSP freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
fresh ground pepper and sea salt to taste
1 poached egg
I put everything but the egg in a glass measuring cup and blended it up…adding the oil last. To poach the egg in the microwave crack it into a glass measuring cup, add warm water to cover by 1/2 inch and then in bursts of 30 seconds, microwave until egg white is firm and yolk is still runny, drain water, add egg to dressing and blend.
I made my own croutons by taking out the inside of a loaf of pugliese in the morning, tearing the bread into bite sized pieces and letting the bread dry. Late in the afternoon I baked the now dry bread with a little olive oil and sea salt for about 12-15 minutes at 400 degrees.
I got out my Mom’s mid-century Dansk teak salad bowl…
dressed the salad, sprinkled with shredded parmesan and…DELICIOUS! Give it a try…